Best Sheer, Single Layer & Breathable Protest Face Masks

Sheer chiffon face mask
Photo via SheerLoveCo

Not everyone agrees that face masks are necessary, and not everyone can tolerate wearing a thick mask all day. Whether you’re looking for an obviously sheer “protest” face mask, or a thin single layer mask that’s breathable, but more readily passes as a standard mask, I’ve got you covered with tons of great picks!

If you’re not seeing exactly what you want in my suggestions below, searching for “single layer face mask” on Etsy is a great place to start.


Please consult your doctor for advice on choosing a mask that will provide protection from COVID-19. This post is purely focused on selecting a mask that will satisfy mask requirements while allowing you to breathe freely.


Breathable Single Layer Face Masks for Adults

You’ll find a good variety below, from sheer chiffon and cheesecloth gauze, to more opaque (but still breathable!) linen. If you need an easy to wear face mask for warm weather or long days, cotton gauze is soft and comfy, and thin linen is one of my favorites. They’re both natural fibers that are also my go-tos for hot weather clothing.

Breathable Single Layer Face Masks for Children

If your child is complaining of headaches at school, is having trouble concentrating, and keeping their mask on when required, they may benefit from a lighter, more comfortable mask. As with adults, cotton gauze can be very breathable, as well as a comfortable option for sensitive skin.

Frequently Asked Questions About Breathable & Protest Face Masks

How can I tell if a face mask is going to be truly breathable? What fabric is best?

Natural fabrics like cotton and linen are usually the most breathable. However thin, loose weave synthetic fabrics like chiffon can also be quite comfortable. When evaluating mask breathability, look for a single layer mask with a looser weave fabric. Ideally, you’ll be able to see light through the mask if it’s held up to the sun or bright light.

Will I be allowed to wear a sheer mask to work/ school/ shopping?

Honestly, your mileage will vary. As long as you’re wearing some kind of mask, stores are unlikely to bother you. If you’re required to wear a mask at work or school, you may want to choose a mask that’s less obviously sheer. However, there are ways to work around this. Many people have reported success wearing a double layer chiffon mask that is close in color to their skin tone–so it’s less easy to tell that the mask is see-through.

My skin is very sensitive, and face masks cause acne/ irritation/ rashes. What can I do?

You may need to experiment a little bit, but I recommend starting with a natural fiber mask that’s smooth to the touch, like a cotton gauze. If you can, avoid synthetic materials like surgical masks. Make sure the mask isn’t fitted too tightly on your face to minimize rubbing.
Finally, wash your masks frequently with a gentle “free and clear” detergent. If possible, buy a week or more worth of masks, so you can wear a clean mask every day.